The Mission – October 2015

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“ Skid Row is horrible, like a nightmare . . . I completely wasted my life out there.”

“When you’re an addict, living on a sidewalk, Thanksgiving’s just another day to get high,” says Willie, who called the streets home for almost 25 years. “Skid Row is horrible, like a nightmare. Crowds of people smoking crack, shooting heroin, drinking. Rape. Prostitutes. I‘ve seen folks get their heads busted in for $2. I saw one guy crawl into a dumpster and get eaten up by rats. I completely wasted my life out there.” Skid Row is a long way from his middle-class childhood, when his life felt stable, when Thanksgivings were spent with family, good food, warm feelings, and laughter. Before the pain and confusion of his parents’ divorce sent him into an emotional tailspin, and he started hanging with the wrong friends. At 22, Willie discovered crack, and his life spiraled completely out of control. Drugs cost him his savings and his job. Then his home. He ended up in and out of jail too many times to count. When he was free, he ate, and sometimes slept, at the Missions on Skid Row, including Union Rescue Mission. “Crack and alcohol finally sent me to my knees, crying out for help,” he recalls. “I knew if I stayed out there much longer, I was going to die. I had people who cared about me — sisters, my mom, nieces and nephews. I needed help, so I came to Union Rescue Mission on November 11, 2013.”

“ I FEEL SO GOOD ABOUT MYSELF. I’M THANKFUL GOD NEVER GAVE UP ON ME.”

Willie took advantage of everything Union Rescue Mission offers: Bible studies, chapel service, physical fitness, work therapy, counseling with his chaplains, health care — he even got new teeth through the Mission’s dental clinic. But one of the highlights was Thanksgiving, he says. “I was here the past two Thanksgivings,” he recalls. “You can’t believe the number of people who come here to serve folks like me. Those folks really care, and they make a whole lot of people on these streets happy.

In fact, last Thanksgiving I got to help serve, too. “When you start ministering to someone else, all of a sudden, all your problems don’t seem so big. So now, whenever I can help someone else out, I’m going to do it. “God and my chaplains helped me through the whole program,” he continues. “This is the longest I’ve been sober in over 25 years. I’m healthy. I got my family back. I’m engaged to be married. And I feel so good about myself. I’m thankful God never gave up on me.”



Thanksgiving Meals and a Way Home — With Your Help Today

All year-round at Union Rescue Mission, your gifts offer precious men, women, and children experiencing homelessness with safe shelter, nutritious meals, long-term care — and even the help they need to find their way home. Thank you! But right now, due to California’s ongoing drought and a severe drop in food donations, we’re facing a severe crisis this holiday season — our busiest time of year. We desperately need your help! Your gift of $33.74 will provide 14 holiday meals!

It still costs just $2.41 to provide a holiday meal to a hungry man, woman, or child. This season, we expect to serve more than 180,000 meals. Your gift of $33.74 will help feed 14 people, $67.48 will help feed 28 people, or any amount you can send will help. So please give generously. Thank you!

To put your gift to work even faster, go to urm.org/ThxFamily


2015-10-13_09-27-51Special Opportunity to Love Your Neighbor!

On November 14, URM will hand out 3,000 special kits to all neighbors on Skid Row. These kits are filled with shampoo, soap, toothpaste, mouthwash, deodorant, razors, socks, and a special invitation to celebrate Thanksgiving with us at Union Rescue Mission. For just $3, you can provide one of these special kits to one of our Skid Row neighbors — and add a personalized blessing signed by YOU! Please check the special $3 box on your remit form, then sign the Blessing Card with your first name only. It’s a wonderful way to love your neighbor this holiday season!


I grew up in East L.A. I never thought I’d end up on the streets of Skid Row. But I got hooked on alcohol. I lost a good job. I lost my marriage. My drinking got so bad, my own family didn’t want me around. So I ended up homeless here. By October 2013, I was broken down, sick, crying, and defeated by life. Then I came to Union Rescue Mission. Thanks to this place, I opened my life to God. I found what I’d been missing all my life. I found the life God has for me. My family has welcomed me back and I’m even going back to school!


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Notes from Andy

A Day of Gratitude and a Moment of Joy

People are pouring into Skid Row like never before. The sidewalks outside Union Rescue Mission are crowded and I’ve never seen so much desperation. It’s just chaos out there. But every Thanksgiving — thanks to your generous support — we take these precious folks away from their desperation for a day of joy. With music playing on the sidewalks, dancing in the streets, and the smoke of fried turkeys wafting down the streets, we make sure our guests enjoy the most splendid Thanksgiving ever — and maybe a reminder of how loved they really are. And when that happens, some will take the courageous step to leave the streets behind and transform their lives. Celebrating Thanksgiving at Union Rescue Mission gives us the chance to show our gratitude for all God has given to us by giving ourselves to those who have nothing at all. How well you and I pull this off is a true reflection of how grateful we really are. So I invite you to join with us again this year, offering your time and your financial support to display to the world our thankfulness and our love for others.

Blessings,

Andy

The Mission – August 2015

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“For most of my life, the world viewed me as trash,” says Gary, 57. “But God used Union Rescue Mission to make me a treasure, and to show the world what He can do with someone like me.”

Gary grew up in poverty, the son of a struggling mother who had difficulty providing for her family. “We never had what the other kids had,” he recalls. “They dressed nicer than we did. I guess that affected my self-esteem.”

By high school, Gary was snatching purses, burglarizing homes, stealing cars, and gambling on the streets. Then his brother introduced him to crack cocaine. He was immediately hooked, and his life spiraled even more out of control. Between 1998 and 2012, he was constantly in and out of prison. And when he wasn’t in prison, he wasted his life away on Skid Row.

“I wanted to change,” he says. “I would see other people get clean, but I didn’t t

August2015NL_inside2hink it would ever happen for me. Then one day around 1999, the Lord spoke to my spirit: ‘Satan’s trying to destroy you. But I got you.’”

It took 10 more years to see the fruit of God’s promise. In 2009, Gary surrendered his life to Jesus Christ in prison. Before long, he was leading Bible studies and preaching in chapel services, and he even felt God’s call to one day go into ministry.

When Gary was released from prison in 2012, God led him straight to Union Rescue

Mission. “I needed a place to stay and I wanted to be in a stable Christian community,” he says. “The Mission fed me, gave me clothes, all of that. But the most important thing is,

they raised me up in the Word of God, and they gave me purpose and direction. The chaplains here modeled for me what ministry is all about.”

Soon Gary joined Central City Community Church, where he now serves as an assistant to

the pastor. He even got married for the first time in February 2013, and in July 2014, Union Rescue Mission hired Gary full-time to drive a truck for their new thrift store in Covina.

“I’m a truck driver,” he says. “I pick up used items that we sell at the thrift store. But it’s more than that. I know what I’m doing is going to benefit others and to God’s glory. So I drive my truck with joy, because I know I’m a part of this incredible ministry. I’m a part of something glorious and honoring to God.”


 

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Real Jobs for Real People — Thanks to You!

by Glynn Coleman, Employment Skills Specialist 

Many of the men and women who come to Union Rescue Mission have a spotty employment history, a lack of marketable job skills, and a history of felonies that can hurt their chances at gaining full-time employment and becoming self- sufficient. These precious people need more than meals and shelter, they need jobs. Real jobs.

And that’s where you come in. Your financial gifts and support to URM do far more than provide meals and shelter. Your gifts help transform lives and help prepare men and women experiencing homelessness with job-preparedness training, work skills, and even job opportunities with employers all over Los Angeles.

Thanks to you, our Employment Program has already helped more than 100 men and women find sustainable employment that has not only helped them support themselves, but often their families, as well.


 

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Summer heat on Skid Row is dangerous for the men and women who call these streets home. They desperately need your help. Yet every summer, donations to Union Rescue Mission drop way off, threatening our ability to meet their needs. Your gift today will provide cold water, cool shelter, nutritious meals, and another day of hope to precious people who need your help the most this summer. So please send the most generous gift you can today. Thank you!

— Anytime it’s 85 degrees or hotter, we pass out cold bottled water on Skid Row. Water Walks take place Monday through Friday at 2:00 p.m. Text the word WATERWALK to 51555 to receive notifications for our next Water Walk.


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Because of You!

Annette’s Story

In 2013, I ended up homeless with my two small children. It got so bad, we had to live in a tent for awhile. Then we came to Union Rescue Mission and Hope Gardens. Hope Gardens helped me give up alcohol and drugs, helped me get closer to God, and they helped me in so many other positive ways. Today, I’m still living at Hope Gardens, but I have a job now and soon I will move into my own place with my children. All I want is to be able to support my children, and thanks to Hope Gardens and generous friends like you, I’m able to do that now.


 

 

andy

Notes From Andy

More than Meals

Struggling men and women who come to Union Rescue Mission seeking help need more than meals and shelter. They need more than sobriety. They need jobs. Real jobs.

I know one guy here at the Mission who came to us after a 20-year addiction. He’s clean, sober, and ready to go home. But he’s scared. What will happen to him when he leaves? He worries that if he can’t find work, if he can’t support himself with dignity and self-respect, he may end up right back where he started.

Thankfully, he’s now participating in our Employment Program and going to school. He knows we will provide him with the skills, the support, and the connections he needs. And we will walk with him every step of they way until he finds a much-needed job. But really it’s you. Your financial gifts to URM help provide men and women experiencing homelessness with training, work skills, and even job opportunities with employers all over Los Angeles.

A life transformed, followed by a job, followed by a home. That’s our strategy. But you’re the one who makes it happen.

 

 

Lost Angels Children’s Project – Year Two!

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Lost Angels Children’s Project founder Aaron Valencia is at it again! This year he is building a 1936 Ford Coupe to giveaway at the 13th annualVentura Nationals Custom Cars & Motorcycle Show on Saturday, September 5th.

Last year, the Lost Angels Children’s Project car build giveaway raised money to off-set the cost of the build plus donate $17,110 each to the youth department of Union Rescue Mission and Grace Resource Center.

This generous donation from Lost Angels Children’s project was used to buy washers and dryers for the families currently living at URM, recreational and fun activities, “Horses in the Hood” camp, afterschool supplies, school supplies, and other essential needs for our children, youth, and families!

This year, Aaron and his dedicated team are working even harder to raise more money and double what they raised last year! This can only happen with your help. Purchase a beautifully designed poster for $20 and you will automatically get free ticket to enter a chance to win the custom made 1936 Ford Coupe. There is NO limit on how many posters you can purchase.

The more you buy, the more chances you have to win the car and the more money raised for children who are experiencing homelessness.

To purchase your entry to win please contact Christine at (213) 347-6342 or ccalderon@urm.org.

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The Mission – July 2015

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To anyone else, it was just a silly child’s necklace, a worthless souvenir from Disneyland.

But for William, it was the last remaining memento of his 12-year-old son, whom he hadn’t seen in eight years. After a lifetime of broken relationships and abandonment, William felt alone and hopeless. First it was his mother, a troubled alcoholic who preferred the streets over her children. His grandmother was in and out of his life. He never knew his father, and after he married the woman of his dreams, she tragically died less than a year later.

“I was so depressed, I went into a tailspin and started drinking more and more. I really struggled,” William recalls. “Then I got married again, way too soon. I never dealt with my grief. And because of my drinking, I burned that relationship out in five years. But a wonderful thing came out of that marriage. My son, Judah.”

But two years after the marriage ended, William’s ex-wife disappeared with his son. “I lost all hope,” William says. “I started drinking all day, every day, and I ended up homeless. Over the next four years, I lost everything, all the reminders of my son.”

Everything but a necklace. William knew he needed help.

So in January 2013, he came to Union Rescue Mission. Over the next year, he poured himself into weekly counseling sessions with Chaplain Mike McIntire, 12-step classes, Bible studies, and prayer. As he got closer to God and his burdens slowly lifted, William began to see the same hurt he had felt in the eyes of the other men at the Mission. So he began loving and ministering to them. Before long, he no longer felt alone.

Yet he never stopped praying to see his son again. “Then one day, out of the blue, my son found me on Facebook,” William says. “I finally got my son back.”

In fact, on Easter Sunday 2015, Judah, now 12, visited William at Union Rescue Mission. At the sunrise service, as they celebrated Christ’s resurrection and new life in Him, William turned to Judah and gave him the necklace he’d carried for eight years.

“This necklace means the world to me, son,” he said. “This is what kept me going, even in the midst of my addiction and all my running away from God, from all my relationships, and even from myself. It’s all I had left of you. Take care of this for the rest of your life.”

It was just a child’s necklace. But it saved a father’s life.


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I love William’s story. As a chaplain at Union Rescue Mission, I see men like him everyday — men wounded from broken relationships with friends, family, and with God. Sometimes those wounds are consequences of bad choices they’ve made. Other times, the broken relationships are suffered from no fault of their own.

But one thing is clear: People don’t end up on Skid Row because of drugs and alcohol. They end up here because of some kind of relationship trauma they’ve never recovered from. In fact, the single biggest common denominator I see among addicted and homeless men and women is the overwhelming grief they feel at being completely alone.

But you and I know they’re NOT alone. They’re not alone because there’s a God who loves them. They’re not alone because we surround them with unconditional love and friendship. They’re not alone because compassionate people like YOU care.

If men and women come here wounded by broken relationships, they heal through loving ones. And thanks to your giving hearts, hurting and broken people who come to Union Rescue Mission have the time and space they need to build new relationships and reconcile old ones — especially in families.

Everyone who comes here is someone’s father, mother, brother, sister, son, or daughter. So every time you invest in someone here, you do far more than help to restore a life. You help heal and restore entire families — healing that will offer hope for generations to come.


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Notes From Andy

Loved and Accepted

I bet if you were to survey 100 people here on the streets of Skid Row about what led them here, 93% would say a broken relationship. Whether that relational trauma led to some kind of mental health issues or led to their addiction issues, they’ve never healed from the grief and pain. So by the time they come to Union Rescue Mission, they have nowhere left to go and no one else to turn to.

But that’s where you come in. With your support, we encourage them to trust again and risk building new relationships. We teach them how to overcome grief and loss, how to overcome anger, how to overcome addiction, and how to turn to the Lord for help. And that’s most important, because when they have a relationship with their Lord, they are embraced by the only perfect Father.

I can’t tell you how many times I’ve seen people go through our program and return home to start over as healthy parents, sons or daughters, brothers or sisters. We all need to be loved and accepted. There is no greater joy than seeing that happen. But it happens here, because caring people like you make it happen.

Kenneth Chancey, Overcoming All Odds

_MG_5180 Just as The Great Recession became apparent through the exploding numbers of two parent & single father & increased single mom families, Union Rescue Mission made the decision to be guided by our history & The Lord & step up to meet the need.

We opened up a 5th floor wing to make a place for this throng of families.

Among the families, was a single dad, with a son & a daughter, he had recently been reunited with & rescued from foster care.

We knew right away there was something very special about the 15 year old son, Kenneth Chancy.

Despite, living in a van, going hungry, suffering the devastation of homelessness, experiencing the challenges of foster care, Kenneth was a straight A student, Student Body President, & the starting Fullback on the Varsity Football Team.

Immediately, due to to Great Recession, the media descended on URM. When they came, they were very interested in this remarkable young man. ABC, CNN & many more interviewed this young man who had his sights set Harvard & becoming a brain surgeon.

Kenneth was grabbed up by Dr. Sanjay Gupta, flew to CNN in Atlanta, & assisted with a brain surgery. He no longer desired to be a brain surgeon.

He was introduced to NFL Star Nambdi Asomuogh, & was mentored by Nambdi & along with several other bright students taken on a tour of colleges all over the U.S.

Along Kenneth’s journey, he befriended Mayor Antonio Villagarosa, Congresswoman Karen Bass, TV News personality Lou Parker, & many more.

One day, Kenneth Found himself sitting with the Duke & Duchess of Tour, Now Prince William & Princess Katherine.

URM’s own Kitty Davis-Walker, VP of Public Relations, served as an “Auntie” to Kenneth all along the way. Always looking out for him & connecting him with the opportunities mentioned above. I had opportunity to be his firm & loving Uncle at times.

Two weeks ago, Kenneth’s journey continued as he graduated from Loyola Marymount University & his story was told around the world, including The Huffington Post & ABC World News Tonight.

Kenneth was honored by Andre Ethier & The LA Dodgers on Memorial Day & we at Union Rescue Mission are honored to continue with Kenneth on his amazing ride.

Kenneth

Needed: Volunteers for Meal Service at Hope Gardens Family Center

We are in need of volunteers to help prepare and serve meals to the women, children, and senior ladies at Hope Gardens Family Center located near Sylmar, CA. If you are interested in helping and meet the criteria below, please contact Monique Johnson, at mjohnson@urm.org.

Shifts:   Monday-Sunday

  •   9am-1pm
  •  1pm-4pm
  • 4pm-7:30pm

Age Requirement: 14 years and older

Volunteer(s) must be able to drive or coordinate a ride to property, as there is no bus access or shuttle service.

We need up to 3 volunteers per shift.

If you would like to serve, contact Monique (mjohnson@urm.org) to confirm your service and schedule a shift date. All Volunteer Activities must be scheduled/confirmed in advance. Thank you!

Special 2015 Sales Event – URM Thrift Store

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The Union Rescue Mission thrift store is humming along as we roll in to 2015.  It continues to provide needed resources to combat homelessness in LA and create jobs for URM graduates and community members alike.  As we begin 2015 we wanted to celebrate its success and say thank you by hosting a 2015 Special Sales Event!

What

32 in. Flat Screen TV raffle (tickets given with any sale)

Free soft drinks and kettle corn

Items up to 50% off

When

Saturday January 10th from 9am to 6pm

Where 

URM thrift Store

280 E. Arrow Hwy

Covina, CA 91722

Please join us for the fun and bring your friends!

 

Christmas Treat for the pets of Skid Row!

Last weekend, the pets of Skid Row received a Christmas treat! Hollywood Grooming, a mobile pet grooming company, came to URM to brighten the day of Skid Row residents – and their pets! Offering grooming services to dogs and cats, Hollywood Grooming brought smiles to the faces of pets and their owners as they helped them out with something they might not otherwise be able to afford. They also partnered with Pet Express to provide free leashes, collars, food and treats!

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Nearly 40 dogs and cats were beautified during the event! Pets are a part of many people’s lives, including people who are experiencing homelessness. We are so thankful to Hollywood Grooming for recognizing this, and coming to Skid Row to bless so many people!

The Mission – December 2014

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I love gardening. Every day after work, instead of grabbing a beer, I grab the hose and tend to all the plants in my garden, examining each one, admiring the veins and the complexity in each leaf — each one a gift from God. It’s so peaceful and serene. And it reminds me how far I’ve come in my life.

It was my grandmother who taught me how to garden when I was kid.

She also raised me, taught me how to cook, and gave me my values and morals. She was the center of my world and I thought she’d live forever.

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But one day in 2004, I got a call at work. When my aunt told me my grandmother had died, it’s like everything around me stopped. I didn’t know how to handle it. So I bottled up all my feelings inside — feelings of hurt, sadness, grief, and frustration. Then, as the days rolled by, all those feelings started growing into anger and rage. 

I never talked to anyone about it. Instead, I turned to alcohol. I’d start drinking after work. One drink turned into two drinks, and two drinks turned into too many drinks. And the more I drank, the angrier I got. And violent. I started getting into fights and going to jail on battery charges. I also had two DUIs, in 2006 and 2010. But I couldn’t stop drinking.

One night, however, I found myself drunk, sitting at a train stop on the Green Line. I couldn’t live like that anymore. I screamed out loud that I needed help. And that’s when I went downtown and walked into Union Rescue Mission.

I immediately started anger management classes to get that under control. Then I took 8 months of classes to deal with my last DUI and get my driver’s license back. And I went back to school and studied microenterprise at Pepperdine University.

I also opened up for the first time about my grandmother. My chaplain helped me realize that she’s in a better place and that helped me let her go. I spent three years at Union Rescue Mission. In short, I grew up and today I’m moving forward with my life. I’m working for Toyota, I have a wife, and I’ve even opened my first bank account ever. I guess if I have a New Year’s wish, it’s to establish enough credit to buy a new car in 2015.

Looking back, I see now that Union Rescue Mission, like my grandmother, taught me how to garden — the garden of my own life.

 


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Union Rescue Mission’s Gift Catalog

Union Rescue Mission’s Gift Catalog is a wonderful way to give someone experiencing homelessness the gift of hope this holiday. And when you purchase a gift on behalf of a loved one, you can also send them an e-card to let them know you’ve made this special gift in their honor. Please visit our online Gift Catalog today at urm.org/GiftCatalog


 

SignUpPageThe season of Advent and the days leading up to Christmas are a wonderful time for thoughtful reflection and joyful anticipation as we celebrate the birth of our Savior. This holiday season, please sign up to receive Rev. Andy’s Advent series of daily devotional emails. Each day from November 20 until December 25, you’ll receive scripture and messages focused on the joy of the season. To sign up for these special email devotionals, please visit urm.org/AdventDevotionals


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Notes From Andy

Instruments of God’s Love

In her excellent book ‘Pursuing God’s Will Together’, Ruth Haley Barton writes, “One of the first lessons we learn about discernment — from Jesus, anyway — is that it will always tend toward concrete expressions of love with real people rather than theoretical conversations about theology and philosophy. Such conversations are valuable only if they eventually lead us to more concrete expressions of love for the real people who are in need around us.”

To me, that’s what caring people like you and your support of Union Rescue Mission — are all about. You don’t just talk about homelessness, you take concrete steps to do something about it. And in 2014, your faithful support led to a number of concrete expressions of love for those in need on Skid Row. You helped us expand Hope Gardens to house even more moms and kids.

To expand our jobs program and start a thrift store to help more men and women find employment. To open space to provide older men on Skid Row with permanent
shelter and care. And to improve our Learning Center to help more men and women achieve their academic goals. Working together, taking concrete steps, we’ll continue to make a real difference for people experiencing homelessness in 2015.

Blessings,

andysig